“You can’t regulate insanity,” said Lesher, owner of Chuck’s Firearms in Buckhead. “You’re not going to stop people from being possessed.”
Since 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the conversation on gun control and mental illness has cropped up nationwide.
All Pittsburgh-based Dick’s Sporting Goods stores in metro Atlanta and across the country have suspended sales of modern sporting rifles, which are commonly known as “MSRs,” according to a store manager at the Lenox Marketplace location on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.
The store closest to Newtown no longer sells guns or has them displayed “out of respect for the victims and their families during this time of national morning,” according to the athletic franchise’s website. It stated they “are extremely saddened by the unspeakable tragedy that occurred last week in Newtown, Conn.”
Lesher said, “There are 300 million guns out there. … There are people who try to buy firearms that are criminals.”
But his store, which has been around for three generations, has loyal customers who are a “great group of Atlanta citizens,” according to Lesher.
“Everyone was really moved by the tragic circumstances,” he said. “They all realize how you can possibly stop that from happening and spot mental illness.”
Lesher said the standard procedure to purchase a gun begins with filling out a federal form, following by the FBI running a background check over the phone, which is either approved, delayed or denied.
“About 99 percent of the time here, it’s approved,” he said. “There is very rarely a denial.”
However, Lesher said he and his employees are cautious and selective, and he considers the store’s standards high.
“We talk to you to see your demeanor and how you’re behaving. You’re interrogated, so to speak,” he said. “The very toughest thing to spot is someone who is going to take their own life. They’re already settled on it and they’re calm.”
He said he usually stops a sale once or twice a month when someone is acting nervous or shows “weird behavior.”
“If we’re not comfortable in any way, shape or form, we have the ability to say no,” he said. “If we smell alcohol or dope, or they’re asking strange questions, we stop the sale. … We go beyond the letter of the law.”